Since lockdown measures were first introduced Childline has delivered nearly 43,000 counselling sessions about mental and emotional health, with children reaching out for help with issues including loneliness and low self-esteem.
, which runs Childline, can also reveal that the number of contacts about body image, gender and sexuality increased
since the first national lockdown began at the end of March.
The news comes as South East-based full time eating disorder campaigner and author Hope Virgo shares her memories of struggling with anorexia and other mental health problems after being sexually abused by a man in a position of trust at her church when she was twelve.
Childline's volunteer counsellors have heard from many children who, after being cut off from important support networks, shared that they were feeling isolated, anxious and insecure.
Nobody is Normal
aims to help children understand
that lacking confidence, feeling not good enough or that you don"t fit in, is a shared experience. Childline is encouraging them not to suffer in silence.
Developed with young people, the campaign features
a bold new animation
of a young boy who is struggling with anxiety while desperately trying to appear 'normal'.
Backed by Radiohead's
hit song Creep,
it reminds young people that no matter how isolated they feel, they are not alone and Childline is here.
Hope, now 30, said:
"Looking back, I can't believe I let myself be manipulated like that, but I was just a child.
"I thought we were in a relationship. We'd go for daytrips together, and as time went on it got more physical.
"He'd ask me to touch him and play with him – I hated it. He'd touch me too. And then we'd go to church on the evening and it would just be normal between us.
"I was so stressed out by the situation that on one occasion I ended up self-harming. I guess I wanted someone to know something was up, but I didn"t know how to say it. I didn't want to 'tell' on him, but I also didn't want to be in this situation. I thought it was my fault this whole thing had started happening.
"The problems with controlling what I ate started soon after all of this.
"In 2007 when I was 17 I'd been battling anorexia for four years and was finally admitted to a mental health ward. I ended up living in hospital for a year.
"In one of our sessions, the psychologist asked a leading question about it and that's when I made my first disclosure.
"I started getting loads of nightmares about it – I'd wake up in the night and be scared that he'd come back.
"My mum got involved and contacted the bishop and then the police got involved, but I wasn't well enough at the time to pursue it. I was still really ill in hospital.
"Looking back, I wish I'd gone ahead with it. I guess I didn"t want to ruin his life, even though he ruined my life.
"I remember when I started putting on weight and I started feeling things again… it made talking about what happened with the guy much harder.
"If I'd talked about it when I was still feeling invisible, it would have been much easier. I enjoyed not feeling anything. I could switch off.
"It's affected my relationships. I have to explain to people why I might just clam up and get really nervous. I've been lucky that I've had all the therapy and made a good recovery."